The state's economic development czar made the case to Long...

The state's economic development czar made the case to Long Island executives Thursday that Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo's START-UP NY tax-free zones for businesses will likely boost the economy and won't reduce tax revenue collected currently by state and local governments. Credit: Craig Ruttle

As Andrew M. Cuomo heads into his second four years as governor, the key question is which path he will set the state on for the future. We need great jobs, a clean environment, top-notch roads and bridges, superb schools and health care, and an affordable Long Island.

Starting us down that road is the governor's real test.

Since Tuesday's election, however, he has promised to deliver legislation he probably can't get passed. Now that the New York State Senate is back in Republican control, Cuomo's demands for continued minimum-wage increases and public financing of campaigns are more tactical taunts than likely policy changes.

As for the 10 planks of the Women's Equality Act, the governor and Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver (D-Manhattan) can have the first nine items on the list that the Senate already passed -- important measures focused on improving women's wages, rights and lives. They won't be able to get the 10th, which would expand abortion rights. So in this session, they should take the nine that they can win.

The real fight will be over how to spend $4 billion or more from bank fines and a state budget surplus. Here's our suggestion: The best way to improve New York is to invest in infrastructure, from Montauk to the North Country.

It can't just be the "Buffalo Billion." Money must be spent here and now to prevent Long Island from ever facing the same economic devastation seen upstate.

The focus should be on the water we drink and which surrounds us. Suffolk needs help with sewers and septic systems. Nassau needs an outflow pipe from its sewer treatment plant to the ocean. Both projects would provide plenty of jobs.

Downstate desperately needs funding of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority's $32 billion, five-year capital budget. The state should help, but in a way that forces the MTA to get more entrepreneurial with its real estate and commercial holdings.

Redeveloping New York City's airports, as Cuomo has promised, is equally important to the region. Developing Republic Airport in Farmingdale as a commerce hub, along with reopening the Long Island Rail Road station there, would be a huge boost to the area.

Cuomo should structure his budget toward phasing out local spending mandated by the state, reducing tax bills and delivering services uniformly. One example would be a state takeover of special education funding in public schools. A similar state move needs to be made to cut Medicaid spending; the more the state takes over from the counties, the more controls it can put in place.

The governor also hopes to force consolidation of local governments with state rebates of property tax increases in municipalities that cut costs. He has been tireless in promoting this and needs to continue that focus.

Cuomo had a very successful first term, combining big ideas with competent day-to-day governance. We want more of the same: bold strokes that improve our economy, infrastructure, lifestyle and environment.

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